As the Colorado Tourism Office will happily tell you, you don’t have to go far to feel far away on the Front Range. Case in point: Evergreen. The town boasts a vast trail network, a pristine lake, and a thriving arts scene (catch the Evergreen Fine Arts Festival from August 26 to 27). The best part? It’s all just 45 minutes from Denver.

Evergreen running
Photograph by Sarah Boyum

Go Chasing Waterfalls

There’s a number of reasons why the Maxwell Falls Lower Trail in Arapaho National Forest has become one of the more popular hikes in the Denver area. For starters, the family-friendly 4.2-mile trek loops through inviting pine forests and over pleasant creek crossings. The most exciting features, however, are the picturesque falls, which you’ll encounter about 1.7 miles in.

Caffeinate Like a Local

Start your day at Evergreen’s community coffeeshop, the Muddy Buck. While ordering a Guatemalan or Indian blend—sourced globally and hand-roasted in-house—ask your barista about the charred rock walls and wood beams dating back to the building’s former life as the Evergreen Hotel, founded in 1896. (The place has been a magnet for fires over the decades.) Return by night for a cocktail or craft beer during one of the cafe’s free Friday live shows, such as the August 11 performance by Americana artist (and obscenely talented Broomfield 11-year-old) Emelise Muñoz.

Evergreen Beer
Photograph by Sarah Boyum

Break for Beers (and Lunch, too)

Salt & Meat, a specialty butcher shop opening this month in Evergreen’s historic downtown, will serve innovative deli sandwiches, including a pastrami Reuben topped with Brussels sprouts kraut. (If you’d prefer to dine al fresco, order a picnic basket stuffed with sandwiches, pasta salad, and other sides.) A few doors over, Revival Brews stocks a rotating menu of 12 craft beers, and just a little farther down the road, Lariat Lodge Brewing Co. makes its own suds. The eponymous IPA is especially tasty.

Shred the Parks

What goes up must come down. That’ll be your mantra as you and your mountain bike tackle an intermediate 13-mile loop that begins in Alderfer/Three Sisters Park, runs through Dedisse Park, and summits scenic Evergreen Mountain, climbing a total of 1,973 feet. The route provides satisfying terrain for all rider levels, from flowy downhills for beginners to rocky technical sections for more seasoned weekend warriors. Tip: Start early to descend without having to dodge the hiking crowds.

Evergreen lake life
Photograph by Sarah Boyum

Live the Lake Life

After a taxing day on the trails, relax by the tranquil waters of Evergreen Lake. Rent a paddleboard from Evergreen Parks & Recreation or catch a free concert on the Evergreen Lake House grounds (held every other Wednesday evening through August). Denver’s crowd-pleasing Tunisia—and its covers of everything from Earth, Wind & Fire to Katy Perry—closes out the series’ 20th anniversary season on August 30.

Gear Up, Glam Up

Downtown Evergreen has long had a fun collection of boutiques, but recently it’s begun adding more diverse destinations. Basin & Bend, a sporting goods retailer specializing in hunting and fishing gear, opened in July, and Epic Estate Treasures, which debuted in June, sells vintage art and home decor collected from high-end estate sales.

Little Bear Saloon
Little Bear Saloon. Photograph by Sarah Boyum

Wind Down the Western Way

No trip to Evergreen would be complete without catching a show at the Little Bear Saloon. Big names like Neil Young have graced the venue’s intimate stage; nowadays, you can catch local favorites such as guitarist and banjoist David Potter. Yes, you could order a craft beer here, but one look at the unique scenery—license plates, bras, etc.—and you’ll realize that a shot of Jack complements the place better.

Bonus: Read our first-timer’s guide to Evergreen, Colorado.